It's fun to remember that Mike Trout - who reportedly secured the largest contract in professional sports history on Tuesday - was selected 25th overall in the 2009 draft. Somehow, the best player in baseball, and possibly the greatest of all time, was passed over by 21 different teams.
The only franchises immune from criticism here are the Boston Red Sox, Tampa Bay Rays, New York Yankees, New York Mets, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Milwaukee Brewers, and Los Angeles Dodgers. Every other team had a chance to select Trout but opted for someone else - and some of them did it twice.
So, let's review the 21 franchises that passed on Trout, and the players they took instead. Note: All wins above replacement (WAR) courtesy of FanGraphs:
1. Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, 30.8 career WAR
Strasburg was a lock to go No. 1 overall after earning nationwide hype as a future ace. The right-hander has since put together a respectable MLB career, but he seems to have plateaued just short of those expectations, instead settling in as a solid second option for the Nats. Still, Strasburg ranks 12th in WAR among all pitchers since his debut in 2010. Trout is better, but Washington can rest pretty easy knowing all 29 other teams would likely have made the same decision.
2. Dustin Ackley, Mariners, 6.9 career WAR
Ackley's one of the most disappointing draft busts in recent memory. After a strong rookie campaign and amid high expectations, the second baseman/outfielder experienced only middling success over the next five years before settling for minor-league deals, including a non-roster invite from Seattle this spring.
3. Donavan Tate, Padres, no MLB appearance
It took a mere three picks to find to a player who never suited up for a single major-league game. After being drafted out of high school, Tate only made it to High-A before flaming out as a 25-year-old in 2016.
4. Tony Sanchez, Pirates, 0.3 career WAR
Since being drafted, Sanchez has mostly been a minor-league catcher who's also gotten an occasional cup of coffee in the bigs. The 30-year-old is currently in the Texas Rangers' system.
5. Matt Hobgood, Orioles, no MLB appearance
Hobgood represents yet another pitcher whom Baltimore failed to develop after taking him early in the draft. The right-hander never made it to the majors and hasn't pitched professionally since a very short and dreadful run at Double-A in 2015.
6. Zack Wheeler, Giants, 7.9 career WAR
Last year, Wheeler seemed to put it all together with a strong season for the Mets. For a while, it had seemed like the Giants wouldn't regret trading the former top prospect for Carlos Beltran in 2011 like many expected, but New York is finally seeing dividends.
7. Mike Minor, Braves, 11.6 career WAR
Over seven MLB seasons, Minor has proven to be a slightly above-average major leaguer while also being hampered by injuries. This year, the 31-year-old lefty will start on Opening Day for the Rangers.
8. Mike Leake, Reds, 18 career WAR
Leake has put together a nice career since getting selected eighth overall, throwing over 160 innings in every season since his 2010 rookie campaign. The right-hander will play for the Mariners in 2019.
9. Jacob Turner, Tigers, minus-1 career WAR
High school pitchers are known as boom-or-bust assets, and Turner ended up as the latter. Through 102 appearances at the big-league level, the right-hander owns a 5.37 ERA and a 4.83 FIP. Now 27 years old, Turner is testing his talents in Korea this season after signing with the Kia Tigers.
10. Drew Storen, Nationals, 4.9 career WAR
The ceiling for relief prospects is never as high, and the Nats likely knew they weren't drafting the second coming of Mariano Rivera here. But what's most damning about this pick is it makes Washington one of only two teams that passed on Trout twice.
11. Tyler Matzek, Rockies, 1.3 career WAR: Matzek's another high school pitcher who just didn't pan out. Now in the Diamondbacks' organization, the 28-year-old lefty owns a 4.06 ERA and a 4.12 FIP over 25 career MLB games, last pitching at the major-league level in 2015.
12. Aaron Crow, Royals, minus-0.5 career WAR
Crow is one of just four players selected before Trout to make an All-Star roster, but that's where the praise for the right-hander stops. He converted into a reliever to make the bigs, last pitched in MLB in 2014, and most recently suited up in the Mexican League.
13. Grant Green, Athletics, minus-1.1 career WAR
The shortstop made it to the majors in 2013 and memorably went hitless during his entire five-game career with the Athletics. Oakland later traded Green to the Angels in exchange for Alberto Callaspo. Fun fact: Green began his Angels debut by going 2-for-2 while Trout, his new teammate, hit the 19th home run of his sophomore season.
14. Matt Purke, Rangers, 0.1 career WAR
Purke was the earliest selection of 2009 who didn't sign, and he wound up going to the Nationals in the third round of the 2011 draft. The left-hander's made 12 career MLB appearances, all of which came in 2016 for the White Sox.
15. Alex White, Indians, minus-1.1 career WAR
White quickly progressed through the minors, but his dominance didn't translate to major-league success. The right-hander owns a 6.03 ERA and a 5.86 FIP over 30 career MLB appearances, and he hasn't played in the majors since 2012.
16. Bobby Borchering, Diamondbacks, no MLB appearance
Borchering never made the majors and no longer plays professional baseball. He retired with an overall .247/.317/.418 slash line following seven seasons across four minor-league levels.
17. A.J. Pollock, Diamondbacks, 17.1 career WAR
Like Washington, Arizona passed on Trout with two different picks. But at least the Diamondbacks also ended up with one good selection. Now a member of the Dodgers, the 31-year-old Pollock might go down as the best center fielder in Diamondbacks franchise history.
18. Chad James, Marlins, no MLB appearance
The left-hander barely made it above High-A and hasn't pitched professionally since getting hit with a 50-game PED suspension in 2015.
19. Shelby Miller, Cardinals, 7.7 career WAR
The right-handed starter's had an odd career trajectory. After being viewed as a future stud with the Cardinals, Miller was shipped to the Braves in a 2014 deal for Jason Heyward. Miller wound up having a good year in Atlanta but was traded once again - this time to the Diamondbacks for Dansby Swanson. Now, the 28-year-old will attempt a comeback from Tommy John surgery as a member of the Rangers.
20. Chad Jenkins, Blue Jays, 0.1 career WAR
The right-hander is now out of professional baseball after briefly making it to the majors as a swingman from 2012-15. Over 46 career appearances, Jenkins posted a 3.31 ERA and a 4.36 FIP.
21. Jiovanni Mier, Astros, no MLB appearance
The utility infielder has never made a major-league appearance and most recently played professionally in Mexico, where he posted a .277/.366/.365 slash line.
22. Kyle Gibson, Twins, 9.2 career WAR
For better or worse, the Twins have stuck with Gibson through all his ups and downs. It paid off last year, when the righty posted the best season of his career as a 31-year-old. Overall, Gibson has recorded a 4.47 ERA and a 4.30 FIP over 159 MLB starts.
23. Jared Mitchell, White Sox, no MLB appearance
Mitchell's pre-draft stock was on the rise after he led LSU to the College World Series title and was named Most Outstanding Player. But the outfielder wound up floundering in the minors and then signed with an independent-league team in 2018.
24. Randal Grichuk, Angels, 8.9 career WAR
The best fun fact about the 2009 MLB Draft isn't that 22 teams passed on Trout - it's that the Angels were among them. It might not really count, since the Angels also owned the very next pick and knew they would get both players, but they could have called either name at No. 24 and chose Grichuk. The outfielder never made an appearance for Los Angeles, as he was traded to St. Louis in a 2013 deal for David Freese, but he's gone on to have a solid MLB career with the Cardinals and Blue Jays.
25. Trout, Angels, 64.9 career WAR
With their compensation pick received from the Yankees due to the latter's signing of Mark Teixeira the previous winter, the Angels changed the course of their franchise by taking a chance on an under-scouted teenager from New Jersey. If Teixeira had never joined the Yankees, the Angels likely wouldn't have ended up with Trout. No wonder some teams refuse to sign players tied to qualifying offers.